Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thank You to Our Troops - Past and Present!

May is National Military Appreciation Month

By Kelly Norton, Volunteer Contributor

Most people know that the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a Federal holiday established to remember members of the military who've lost their lives. But did you also know that the whole month of May is dedicated to our country's service members? In 1990, Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month, giving the nation an opportunity to show appreciation and support all month long.

The American Red Cross's commitment to current members of the US military, military veterans, and their family members as been part of its history since Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the Armed Forces following the Civil War. 

Today, the Red Cross continues to support military members - past and present - and their families in several ways highlighted in the video below. Helping our troops continues to be among the organization's proudest duties.

One of the most important tasks the Red Cross undertakes is providing emergency communication services to service members. If a military family experiences an emergency - such as the death or serious illness of a family member - the Red Cross is there to deliver notification to services members, no matter their location. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Red Cross also delivers important news to service members, like the birth of a child or grandchild. 

Another great program the Red Cross organizes is Holiday Mail for Heroes (HMFH). You can read our blog post about our region's HMFH efforts last year. Make sure to look out for the program when the holidays arrive later this year!

The Washington, DC are is home to a number of military members and veterans and is the site for a high concentration of military bases and hospitals. There are also many places throughout the city where tribute is paid to the Armed Forces every day. One of my favorite places is the National World War II Memorial. It's dedicated to the 16 million people who served in the US Armed Forces, the more than 400,000 who died serving during the war, and everyone who supported the war effort at home. It's located on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues. It's worth reading more about this beautiful memorial.

In World War II, thousands of Red Cross nurses served in military hospitals at home and overseas and millions of Red Cross packages were delivered to American and Allied prisoners of war. The organization also collected 13.3 million units of blood for American servicemen. 

Another great way that the military is honored in DC is organized by the Washington Nationals every home game. At the end of the third inning there's an "In-Game Military Salute" where members of the military are given recognition. This is one of my favorite parts of going to Nationals Park. I love standing with the crowd to clap for and honor our deserving troops. 

This National Military Appreciation Month, take some time to learn more about the services the Red Cross provides. And be sure to thank a service member - past and present - for their dedication to our country and for their heroism. 

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